Contact: Alexis O’Brien, PR Director, 347-826-3577, [email protected]
Tallahassee, FL (April 5, 2017) – More than twice as many people die by suicide in Florida annually than by homicide. To help prevent this tragic loss of life, volunteer advocates from the Florida chapters of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Florida Suicide Prevention Coalition are visiting the state capitol on Thursday, April 6th to encourage their legislative leaders support the increase of mental health funding in this state by $25 million dollars, prohibit conversion therapy, increase funding for the State’s University Systems (SUS) Mental Health Counseling Services and amend current laws to include that first responders with diagnosable nervous injuries such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are compensable under Workers’ Compensation Law. The advocates will meet with policymakers from 9 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. in the Florida State House and Senate offices to share state statistics, education and prevention resources and personal stories of those affected by suicide. At 11:00 am a press conference will be held on the 22nd floor of the New Capitol Building.
“Each year, suicide takes more lives in the U.S. than homicide, war and natural disasters combined. In Florida, more than two times as many people die by suicide each year than by homicide. It is critical that we work together with legislators to prevent suicide and help saves lives,” said Teresa Daniels, AFSP advocate.
Increase of Mental Health Funding by $25 Million
Even when you include funding for those on Medicaid, funding for mental health services in the state of Florida lags behind most states. AFSP advocates will be endorsing Governor Rick Scott’s request to increase mental health funding in the state by 25 million dollars.
Prohibit Conversion Therapy
Sexual orientation conversion efforts are based on the belief that homosexuality is a mental illness that needs to be cured, a belief that has been rejected as scientifically invalid by the American Psychiatric Association and all other major mental health organizations. Conversion therapy has not been proven to change a person’s sexual orientation. Conversion therapy can, however, invoke feelings of rejection, guilt, confusion, and shame and can lead to decreased self-esteem, substance abuse, social withdrawal, depression, anxiety, and increased risk for suicidal behavior; LGBT adolescents are at particular risk for emotional or physical harm.
State University System’s Mental Health Counseling Services Legislative Budget Request
Currently, 10 of the 12 SUS counseling centers are operating above the standard for minimum staffing of one professional staff member per 1,000 students, and eight of the 12 centers are operating above the high end of the range recommended by IACS of one staff member per 1,500 students. This budget request is designed to raise the staffing levels of the SUS Counseling Centers to the minimum recommended by the profession’s accreditation association, the State University of Florida Board of Governors.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits For First Responders
Advocates are encouraging lawmakers to amend the current law to provide that mental or nervous injuries of law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians or paramedics, who meet the criteria for PTSD, diagnosed by a psychiatrist, and which arose from a job-related activity, are compensable under Workers’ Compensation Law.
This is the fifteenth State Capitol Day in Florida. Ms. Daniels is part of a larger national contingent of AFSP volunteer advocates who will be visiting 35 state capitols across the United States in the spring of 2017 to bring best practices in suicide prevention to state legislators and their staff.
Suicide in Florida
Suicide is the 8th leading cause of death overall in Florida. For people aged 10-18 in Florida, it is the third cause of death. For those college aged students, it is the second leading cause of death. On average one person dies by suicide every 2 hours and 45 minutes in the state.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide. AFSP creates a culture that’s smart about mental health through education and community programs, develops suicide prevention through research and advocacy, and provides support for those affected by suicide. Led by CEO Robert Gebbia and headquartered in New York, AFSP has local chapters in all 50 states with programs and events nationwide. AFSP celebrates 30 years of service to the suicide prevention movement. Learn more about AFSP in its latest Annual Report, and join the conversation on suicide prevention by following AFSP on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.